Wake Up the Right Way

An anatomy expert shares his must-do morning ritual.

Grandiose new year promises will get you nowhere fast. In true anti-resolution spirit, we asked our Q Advisory Board members to divulge the one simple health habit they swear by. Next up: Thomas Myers, leading expert in the field of fascia: a three-dimensional cobweb of connective tissue that holds us together and acts as a source of power for the body. Fittingly, here's what the renowned author and scientist had to say:

One of the best things you can do for yourself — so says some research — is to wake up like a cat. It sounds silly, I know, but at night your "fascia" congeals and the collagen fibers form bonds in areas where you have curled yourself up. When you stretch out those areas first thing in the morning, you break up the glycoaminoglycans and hyaluron (the glue-y part) of your body's connective tissue.

The formal name for the cat pose from yoga is pandiculation (who knew? Science has a long name for everything). Try doing it first thing in the morning or do some upward and downward-facing dog. It's the flexion and extension of the back that's most important, but side stretches and rotations are great too. And yawn — yawning really helps your neck. These movements break thousands of hydrogen bonds, which have formed in your fascia overnight and prepare you for the movement of the day.

Stay tuned for next Monday's installment. And if you missed last week's, check out Dr. Brandon Colby's diet secret.